Over the years, we've looked at lots of websites. Some site owners don't understand why they don't have much traffic or sales, but it's often because they're missing the basics. In a lot of cases, they just made their website themselves, skipping a lot of items that a website expert might absolutely make sure are included.
It's a shame because their competition used website design experts, and are ranking higher. The good thing for us is, it's rather easy to get some websites jumping up higher in rankings just by adding some missing elements. Yes, your website can jump up many spots with a few, simple changes... which I'll reveal right now.
The trick is, you need to understand the perspective of search engines. A search engine "robot" comes to your website to read it. Guess what? It doesn't care too much about design. It cares about things like content and links. There are ways to give search engines what they want just by adding more content - specifically, the content they want. Yes, content is one factor.
Other factors are what we call off-site optimization. For example, getting more websites to link to your website would be off-site SEO (search engine optimization). There are other kinds, but search engines use many factors to determine rankings. If you site has great content on it, people will start linking to it from their websites, so content development is always an excellent strategy.
With any website, you typically get out of it what you put into it. One way to boil it down is, if you have a product page you're trying to rank above a competitor with the same product, you just need to be the better result. It's often just that simple.
Here is a quick checklist to help you make sure your website can start to rank better:
Holy buckets! Why do I keep seeing websites without their address on the bottom of every page? How do these sites expect to get any rankings locally without that information?
You need your NAP (name, address, phone) all over the internet to rank locally, and that especially means on your website.
Websites with less then 1000 original words on their home page are going to have a tough time ranking. That's because there's not enough information there. Make sure the keywords you're trying to rank for are in that content, too. This copy should be written by experts to make sure it draws people in and converts to a click to another page on your website.
A good result on a search engine contains information, right? So let's work that backwards... to be a good result, provide information.
Speaking of that...
Every new blog post is like making your fishing net that much bigger. You catch more fish with big nets, right? Add content constantly. I don't care of that's just twice a month, but do it. And it doesn't have to just be in your blog - pages count, too.
But do not post garbage. It has to be good content... for sure. This is probably where 50% of your SEO should be - adding awesome content.
Good results on search load fast. So the "basic" you're missing here is a design and hosting that is fast.
To get people to do something, you must ask them to do that something. When you get to the end of a web page and there's no call to action, you're just sort of leaving people hanging (and they might leave). You just wasted that space on your website for nothing. Have some kind of call to action - big or small.
Everyone with a smartphone has an entire phone book in their pocket. Yes, some people come to your website just to find your phone number. So... put it at the top where it's easy to find.
Your site navigation must be easy to use. This means from your target audience's point of view - not yours. You go to some sites and it's like they didn't have a professional design the navigation - you can just tell. Kind of like when your buddy shows you a project he did on his home himself. It's like, "So... you did that yourself, huh?"
Is your website content too much about you?
I mean, that's why people come to company websites - to find out about that company, but if all your sentences are "we" and "us" and so forth, then you're not making it about the customer. People are in "what's in it for me" mode when they get to a website. If you're not providing that basic need, then... bye. See ya.
When you're not doing this right, that increases your bounce rate, which Google measures. Also, you kind of stink at conversion.
If the title tag of your home page says "Home" and you're not selling homes, then what are you optimizing for? The title tag is a big, fat label you're putting on your website. It better be what you're trying to rank for.
Words in title tags and headings are important. Use them well.
If your website isn't structured right (is a mess) and doesn't use schema (where you get to label your content in a way search engines can use it better), then you're missing out on the basics. It's going to be harder for search engines to go through your website and understand what it's about.
Think of it this way... if your site structure is correct, when you add a new page within good structure, search engines automatically know what it's about - almost without reading it.
And then there's schema, which is a way to pick out certain information off your website and use it in different ways to enhance search results.
Examples of schema are:
Without schema, this information can be difficult to grab. So... get on that.
Do you know what those are? Search Console is like a back channel between you and Google. If you're ignoring what they're trying to tell you there, you're going to struggle to rank higher. I mean, they're trying to tell you what to do. If you want your car to run well, you'll listen to your mechanic, right?
Monitoring Google Search Console errors is actually a service we offer for free to our clients. We connect with your Google Search Console account and our Maintenance Team is notified when an issue arises. We take a look and if we think it should be fixed, we'll let you know.
Here's an example of some work we're doing for an SEO client now:
The total time required to complete the tasks above is 10.5 hours.
That sounds pretty boring, right? Yes, it is, but that is what pops up from time to time when a website is really examined. These kinds of issues creep up and must be fixed. If this isn't being looked at every month, your ship is sinking... pretty much.
You know how many, many words in Wikipedia articles are linked to other pages at Wikipedia? Well, you don't have to get that insane about internal linking, but I would guess you need to at least double or triple the amount you're doing now. It builds domain strength.
Some people think if there are any technical issues at all with their website, then THAT is why it's not ranking. That's not true. All websites have technical issues. Don't get hung up on them. Don't try to shift the blame to one thing because there are a lot of variables now with getting a website ranked. Just think about it... more and more websites are published every day. Competition keeps going up. Ranking can't come down to one or even 50 factors. It's much higher, but...
Content takes the cake. Great content can cover a multitude of technical issues.
Have you ever gone to one of those restaurants where the sign outside needs to be fixed, the parking lot has potholes, but the food is the best ever? People will overlook all those things and come for the food if the food is great. That "food" is your website content. If it's really great, you'll get traffic and get ranked.
Are you posting one, great blog post per month yet? Is it 1500 words with no fluff, great illustrations, images, and videos you created?
Need ideas? Post this kind of quality content:
INVEST in your website. Get that content created because you do that work once and it keeps paying you back - on autopilot!
You only get out of something what you put into it, right?
I had a conversation with a client the other day, who has a local service. He was shocked when I said that in order to rank higher, he needs experts like us working on his website every month. He wondered why. I said that because of the service he offers, I know his competition is working hard. If they're working, you need to be. It's just that simple.
If you're old enough to remember what a phone book and the Yellow Pages was, think of search engines as a live version of the Yellow Pages - or one that gets delivered every day. Listings aren't set once and then done - they change all the time. Even if you're ranked #1, you do NOT stop working. You need to work to maintain that position. Once you stop, your competition (who is still working) will take over. Competition does not just go away. The search algorithms just don't get set once - they keep changing. Better content than yours is constantly being created.
Your website is not a "set it and forget it" kind of thing if you have competitors (that's most every business). Beyond just the basics, you need to be paying attention to your rankings, what your competition is doing, and be actively working on ranking higher. If you don't have time to do that, find some experts to help get that done.
At Webstix, we are those experts. We can cover more than just the basics. We'll tune your design, calls to action, and optimize your website to rank higher. Will it happen overnight? No. Those aren't the correct expectations. If you would have started this 3 months ago, I bet you'd be seeing some higher rankings already, so don't wait.
Contact Webstix today. Let's make sure your website has the basics covered, then let's see what else we can do to help. We'll tell you what the best "bang for the buck" is so you're not wasting your money.